“Feel your feelings and don’t judge or push them away”


Feel your feelings and don’t judge or push them away: If you bulldoze over your feelings, you could miss the opportunity for grace and authentic happiness. Understanding your emotions is key to feeling balanced and happy.


It sometimes feels like it is so hard to avoid feeling down or depressed these days. Between the sad news coming from world headlines, the impact of the ongoing raging pandemic, and the constant negative messages popping up on social and traditional media, it sometimes feels like the entire world is pulling you down. What do you do to feel happiness and joy during these troubled and turbulent times? In this interview series called “Finding Happiness and Joy During Turbulent Times” we are talking to experts, authors, and mental health professionals who share lessons from their research or experience about “How To Find Happiness and Joy During Troubled & Turbulent Times”.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Shannon Kaiser.

Shannon Kaiser is the bestselling author of five books on the psychology of happiness and fulfillment, including The Self-Love Experiment, Adventures for Your Soul, and Joy Seeker. As an international life coach, speaker, and retreat leader, she helps people awaken and align to their true selves so they can live their highest potential. She’s been named a “Top 100 Women to Watch in Wellness” by mindbodygreen and “your go-to happiness booster” by Health magazine.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

It is so interesting how our childhood can affect our patterns, habits, and impact who we are as adults. Although I was loved and had a supportive, close family, I didn’t always feel my emotional needs were fulfilled. We moved around a lot (between age 6 and 9), so I was always the new kid at school and often the butt of everyone’s jokes. Because I was bullied and didn’t feel I fit in anywhere, I developed a silent eating disorder at age 9. For years I cycled through patterns of extreme self-hate and self-critical thoughts, but through my pain, I turned to writing and art. I found solace in nature with my journal and poetry book. Writing helped me connect to my true self and share my heart in words on paper. Today, I am so thankful that my original passion for writing and creating is what I do for a living. I feel fulfilled. It is proof that there is always purpose through our pain, and the things we turn to can often help us move through.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

In 2009, I suffered from corporate burnout, a silent drug addiction, and an eating disorder. When I was diagnosed with clinical depression and extreme anxiety, that was a turning point for me because when you hit rock bottom, the only place you can go is up. I realized my depression was oppressing my true self, and my heart wanted to be a writer and help others feel better in life. So, I started to listen to my heart and take steps to re-create myself and my path in life. I healed myself from all those struggles by being true to myself, and today I help others do the same.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

My mother has been a tremendous support. She always listens, guides me with love, and gives great advice. She is my best friend too. Before I left my corporate job, I remember crying to her about how trapped and stuck I felt. She asked a straightforward question that allowed me to leave the job and follow my heart to start a writing career. She asked, “What would it take for you to say yes to your dreams and be true to yourself?” Just in her asking that, I realized I was giving more faith to my fears than my freedom, and soon after shifted my perspective to focus on what I wanted over what I didn’t want.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

I used to get let down when my articles or pitches to magazines got rejected. The first couple of years I started professionally writing, I specifically had a goal to be a contributing writer to my favorite magazine, Spirituality & Health. When I sent them the article they requested, it never ran. At the time, I felt like a failure, but flash-forward to today, I am an online monthly columnist for them and have a print article coming out in the next issue. Lesson learned, never give up on your dreams, and trust the timing of everything.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

My new Unshakable Inner Peace oracle card deck is the most exciting project I have ever created. At the beginning of 2020, with all the chaos of the world, I started to experience extreme anxiety. Instead of going to fear and panic, I channeled all my energy into creating digital collages. I printed them out and used them daily, and I started to feel instant inner peace and joy. I knew if they could help me through one of the most turbulent times, then they could certainly help others. My publisher Sounds True, and I turned them into an oracle card deck. The exciting part is, I left my corporate job as an art director/ graphic designer to be a writer but missed the graphic design aspect of myself. Since I became an author, I was unable to use those skills. To release a tool that can help people find peace using my own skills and talents is so rewarding.

You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

  1. Good communication.
  2. Align with your core values.
  3. Be true to you! Don’t worry about what others think of you.

I value good communication and work to express myself clearly, always speaking from the heart. Being fearless by not worrying about what others think of me and aligning with my values has made me the most successful. For example, there were times in my life where I would hold back and hide myself and my true thoughts from others, afraid of what they would think. Still, I’ve learned in running my own business and becoming an author, the more I align with my truth and share and say what I need to say, free of worry, the more successful I become, and the more I step into a leadership role. The more authentic we are to ourselves and share that authenticity with the world, the easier it is for like-minded and like-hearted people to align as well.

For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority about the topic of finding joy?

I think every human being is their own authority on finding joy. Because what I learned is, joy is not something outside of us, but within — it is a state of being and allowing. We are taught to chase happiness. It will come in the next thing, the raise, the new car, the home or vacation or relationship, but all these are fleeting as they are experiences outside of ourselves. Real, authentic Joy lives within us, and when we tap into this, we are free of the chase. We let go of needing anything to be happy and bring happiness to each experience.

When it comes to finding joy, we tap into our true gifts, talents, skills, and passion. The more we allow ourselves to do what comes naturally to us, the more we have fun and the more joy we add to the world.

Ok, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about finding joy. Even before the pandemic hit, the United States was ranked at #19 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low, despite all of the privileges and opportunities that we have in the US?

In America, we live in a culture that prides itself on being busy. We push ourselves as if stress and being overwhelmed is some badge of honor. Yet, we have some of the unhealthiest and depressed people on the planet. So we have to ask ourselves, why are we trying so hard to fit this version of life? The mindset of “work harder and joy and happiness will come when you get X, Y, Z, etc.,” isn’t working. There is a systemic belief that self-love, joy, and happiness are selfish. We think things like, “How can I go after what I want when there is so much suffering,” or “How dare I take some personal time when my family and friends need me.” This has created an epidemic of suffering that has caused us always to feel as if something is missing. That something missing is putting us into the equation of our own life. Our dreams do matter. Taking care of ourselves is not selfish but fulfilling because when you feel better, you help those around you feel better, and when you are taking care of yourself, you are helping to take care of and uplift the world. So start by asking yourself, what brings me joy? What am I good at? How can I do more of that daily?

What are the main myths or misconceptions you’d like to dispel about finding joy and happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?

Myth 1: There is a there to get to

Commit to personal growth. I stopped trying to think there was a there to get to — a final place of complete happiness, inner peace, a perfect life — and recognized life is a glorious journey. I committed to growth by investing in myself with yearly wellness retreats, new training, and personal development programs. When you grow, you transform and have a new awareness of life, which uplifts you and helps to uplift the world. But it never ends; we are constantly growing, changing, and expanding, so release the need to get anywhere and enjoy the here.

Myth 2: Expecting happiness to come when you get X, Y, Z

Release all expectations. The sooner you can let go of how you think it should look, the faster you can get what you truly need. I had enormous expectations of myself and my career, and when I didn’t hit those benchmarks, I was devasted. Falling into this low energy kept me from seeing all of the amazing things happening and kept me playing small.

Myth 3: Self-love and being happy are selfish

Cultivate a friendship with yourself. The sooner you can become your own friend; the easier your life will be. Be kind, compassionate, and generous with yourself. When I started my business, I always looked outside of myself at others and constantly felt competitive and not good enough. Once I began practicing self-love, I realized how abundant and supportive the world really is. There is no competition, for we are all on our own journey. When you love yourself, everything becomes more rewarding.

In a related, but slightly different question, what are the main mistakes you have seen people make when they try to find happiness? Can you please share some stories or examples?

I no longer look at life through the lens of mistakes or good or bad, for I think it is all learning and opportunities to grow. So with that in mind, the most common lesson I see people stuck or trapped in is the idea that happiness will come when we do or have something. “If I am not happy now, maybe when I move, get out of debt, find a better partner, etc., I will be happy.” We place our hopes and dreams outside of us, but when we get that thing we’ve been wanting, it feels almost fleeting. We often wonder, is this it, is this all there is? Then we quickly set our eyes on the next thing, hoping to feel the emptiness inside. I believe we have the power to fix this part of us by going inward and discovering who we really are. Each person has a unique perspective, gift, and talent that the world needs. It is about giving ourselves permission to be and express this true nature. When we do, happiness and joy become a way of being.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share with our readers your “5 things you need to live with more Joie De Vivre, more joy and happiness in life, particularly during turbulent times?” (Please share a story or an example for each.)

  1. Feel your feelings and don’t judge or push them away.

If you bulldoze over your feelings, you could miss the opportunity for grace and authentic happiness. Understanding your emotions is key to feeling balanced and happy. If you’re like me, you have a big heart and empathically can feel others. Right now, it is a hard time to be on planet Earth. There are a lot of emotions happening all over. We see others suffering and in pain, and often we take it on as our own. Taking it on without realizing it can bring us down and hurt our capacity to help others or be happy ourselves. What you truly want is to feel your feelings so you can heal them and release them. As you do, you no longer let them define you, nor do you stay stuck in a static place.

2. Accept others, including yourself, for who they are — not who you want them to be.

Many of us try to change people or change things in the world that don’t fit or make sense to us. Especially these days, I see so many people trying to push their beliefs and concerns onto others. Instead of spending so much time focusing on what isn’t working or what others are doing or not doing, turn inward and ask how you can improve yourself and focus on peace today. How can I focus on bringing more love and joy to my life today? Are you kind and compassionate to yourself? Be gentle with this process; accepting people for who they are and their choices will help you achieve lasting inner peace.

3. Practice self-love and value yourself.

Stop settling and thinking you are not worth your desires. You deserve to be happy, and you can empower yourself with self-care activities. Focus on things that make you feel nurtured and cared for, like a good journal session, meditation, Epsom salt bath, or nature walk. Taking care of your mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional self is essential. As you do this, you realize how much you can help others by staying in a place of gratitude and compassion. Also, listen to and trust your intuition. Part of self-love is knowing your true self by trusting yourself. Learn to trust your heart and become your own best friend.

4. Stop worrying about what others think of you and honor your true self.

Our fear of what others think of us keeps us safe and small, and it keeps us in a predictable reality forcing us to hide our greatness. The sooner you can let go of caring about what others think of you, the faster you will free yourself up to be the true you. You will never make everyone happy, so instead of trying to please the world and get people to like you, focus on pleasing yourself and liking you. When you show more of the real you, your true tribe can show up and support you. I always say the more of yourself you show; the more your life will flow.

5. Get to know your true self and live your values

I was able to heal my depression and eating disorders in part by getting to know my true self and honoring my needs, values, and desires. There’s a hidden power within us all. It’s called authenticity. It’s called your unique self, what I call your true nature. Your true self is often hidden and blocked by habits, conditioning, and fear. But the light within you is so immense, and when we see that hiding our authentic self hurts us emotionally and mentally, we start to lead from love instead. Learn more about yourself by going on an inner journey. Discover your passions and values. What are your true talents, hobbies, gifts, and perspectives? Don’t be afraid to honor and trust the real you. The world needs you to be you.

What can concerned friends, colleagues, and life partners do to effectively help support someone they care about who is feeling down or depressed?

We can start by realizing that feeling down and depressed is part of life. It is a spectrum of emotion, and when we resist, it tends to become worse. But allowing ourselves to feel it and ask our feelings, “Why am I feeling this way?” “What message do you have for me?” can help us understand them more. In the work that I do with my books, retreats, and coaching programs, I’ll meet people who will sometimes share they feel so off track and down. They felt good and focused on goals, then fell in a funk and felt bad and got down on themselves. The shame and blame we put on ourselves for feeling our emotions is more detrimental than the feelings themselves. So, I often celebrate the place they are in by letting them know they are not alone or off track at all. Simply permitting ourselves to feel can help heal and transform the experience. I often remind people they are not off track at all, for this is part of the human experience. For friends, I also just let them know I am there for them, that they are not alone, and I listen when they need to share and unload. Usually, this helps, and they feel seen, heard, and acknowledged, which helps. When we can embrace the lows and the highs, we can truly live a balanced and fulfilled life.

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

#BeTrueYou

#ComeTogether #WeAreOne #LoveIsTheOnlyAnswer

Today it seems everywhere we look, we are asked to pick sides. My president or not my president, my team or not my team, vaxxed vs. unvaxxed, etc. — with this division and clear line in the sand, it can be hard to feel connection and a sense of belonging. This separation keeps us from seeing the real beauty of being alive: we are more alike in our humanity than we realize, and we need each other. We can all exist together by allowing each other to be who we really are. People feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

It’s no doubt we are in a time of great divide, but this can ultimately bring us closer when we see that our differences are our strengths. We don’t have to agree or see the world the same way or make the same choices to support, protect, help, love, and uplift one another. The movement I stand for is unity! Despite our differences, we are all one in our humanity.

We are all in this together, and loving compassion is key and the power that can move us through.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would like to have a picnic in the park with world leaders and ask them about their childhood. I want to learn about when they felt the most joy and connected to themselves. I believe many in power are acting from a place of fear and disconnection from their true self and source energy. In permitting them to return to their true self, they may drop from their head into their heart and make more compassionate decisions. How beautiful would it be for us to surrender our judgment for a day and just be human beings sitting together in nature learning about one another? For a moment, not looking to change one another or prove anyone right or wrong, but allowing each other to be seen, heard, felt, and recognized in the world?

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website:

https://www.playwiththeworld.com/home/

Unshakable Inner Peace Oracle Deck: https://www.playwiththeworld.com/unshakableinnerpeaceoracledeck/

Social:

www.instagram.com/shannonkaiserwrites

https://www.facebook.com/ShannonKaiserWrites/

Newsletter:

https://www.playwiththeworld.com/free-stuff/

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!

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